Fitzgerald, Maurice (1318-1390) (DNB00)

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FITZGERALD, MAURICE, fourth Earl of Kildare (1318–1390), justiciar of Ireland, born in 1318, was the youngest son of Thomas Fitzgerald, the second earl [q. v.], and his wife, Joan de Burgh, and was generally called Maurice Fitzthomas. He lost his father in 1328, and became earl on his brother Earl Richard's death in 1331. His lands reremained in the custody of Sir John D'Arcy, his mother's second husband. Kildare was involved in the opposition led by Maurice Fitzthomas, earl of Desmond [q. v.], to the new policy which the justiciar, Ralph D'Ufford, endeavoured to enforce, of superseding the 'English born in Ireland' by 'English born in England.' In 1345 Ufford sent a knight named William Burton to Kildare with two writs, one summoning him to an expedition to Munster, the other a secret warrant for his arrest. Burton was afraid to carry out the latter in the earl's own estates, but enticed him to Dublin, where he was suddenly arrested while sitting in council at the exchequer (Ann. Hib. Laud MS. p. 386). Next year Kildare was released, on 23 May, on the surety of twenty-four manucaptors (ib. p. 389). He at once invaded the O'More's country, and compelled that chieftain to submit. In 1347 he was present with Edward III at the siege and capture of Calais (Clyn, Annals, p. 34). He was then knighted by the king, and married to a daughter of Sir Bartholomew Burghersh (Grace, Annals, p. 143). There are preserved in the archives of the Duke of Leinster some interesting indentures of fealty of various Irish chieftains to Kildare (Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. ii. 270-1).

On 30 March 1356 Kildare was appointed justiciar of Ireland (Fœdera, iii. 326), but he was almost at once succeeded by Thomas de Rokeby. On 30 Aug. 1357, however, Kildare was made locum tenens for Almaric de St. Amand, who had been appointed justiciar on 14 July, until the arrival of the latter in Ireland (ib. iii. 361, 368). In 1358 his Leinster estates were invaded by the De Burghs, and in the same year he and his county made a liberal grant for the war against the 'O'Morthes' (Cal. Rot. Pat. et Claus. Hib. pp. 69, 75). In 1359 his mother, the Countess Joan, died (Ann. Hib. Laud. MS. p. 393).

In 1359 Kildare was made locum tenens for James Butler, earl of Ormonde, justiciar of Ireland, and continued in office in 1360, being on 30 March 1361 definitely appointed as justiciar (Ann. Hib. Laud. MS. p. 394). He resigned, however, on Ormonde's return from England. In 1371 Kildare was made justiciar, and again in 1376, in succession to Sir William de Windsor; but on neither occasion did he hold the post for any time. On the latter occasion he was specially instructed to remain in Leinster, while the custody of Munster was more particularly entrusted to Stephen, bishop of Meath. He refused, however (Gilbert, Viceroys, p. 243), to take office again in 1378. In 1386 he was one of the council of De Vere, the marquis of Dublin (ib. p, 551). He died on 25 Aug. 1390, and was buried in the church of the Holy Trinity, now called Christ Church, in Dublin.

By his wife, Elizabeth Burghersh, he left four sons, of whom the eldest, Gerald, became the fifth earl, and died in 1410. He was succeeded by his son John, the sixth earl (d. 1427), the father of Thomas Fitzgerald, the seventh earl [q. v.]

[Chartularies, &c., of St. Mary's Abbey, Dublin (Rolls Ser.); Rymer's Fœdera; Clyn's Annals and Grace's Annals (Irish Archæol. Soc.); Calendar of the Patent and Close Rolls of Ireland; Gilbert's Viceroys of Ireland; Kildare's Earls of Kildare, pp. 31-5.]

T. F. T.